I’m a substitute for a high school art class
when a deep-eyed boy tells me
he saw my painting in a dream.

He says it in passing, in between
a fire drill and informing me that my fears
of bull riding are unfounded,

that you never get hurt the way
you think you’ll get hurt,
and that lunch is an extra
15 minutes long today.

I can’t tell if he is making things up,
if someone really broke into his house
and shot at him, whether
he saw that in his dreams too.

I can’t tell if he’s sleepy
or just sounds it, likes
scaring the new teacher
or just likes her—

but he speaks with a slowness
like daylight fading, like evolution,
like cleaning a gun with care,

uncoiling the slow remembrances
of dreams, of paintings, of bulls
that almost got him, but didn’t.

Alana Benson is a freelance writer living in Lander, Wyoming. Her work is reflective of location: Wyoming’s Wind River Mountains, small-town Kentucky, Vermont in winter, and downtown Athens. She has been previously published in BlazeVOX magazine and the University of Vermont’s literary journal Vantage Point and has also published six non-fiction books ranging in subject matter from identity theft to birth control.